From Niagara Falls City Forester Joseph Urso:
This year marked the return of the celebration of Arbor Day in Niagara Falls with the support of Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster and Niagara Falls City School District Superintendent Mark Laurrie. As in the past, the festivities directly involved the students in the planting of large balled-and-burlapped (B&B) trees at City schools. These Arbor Day plantings were kicked off at Gaskill Middle School with officials present on April 28, 2017.
Throughout the next two weeks, with the assistance of the Niagara Falls Forestry Department, trees were planted at the remaining ten schools. These trees were allocated from the City’s annual purchase of trees for City streets, parks, and municipal buildings. Two species were planted at the schools: ‘Autumn Blaze’ red maple and ‘Commendation’ elm. The large holes were pre-dug by City Forestry with the use of an auger. The students, with shovels and rakes in hand, backfilled and mulched each of the trees.
The second major part of our Arbor Day initiative involved families from the participating schools and volunteers planting tree seedlings at the Niagara Beautification Commission’s Municipal Tree Nursery. The seedlings, planted in nursery pots on Saturday April 29, were an assortment of species purchased through the NYSUFC Grant and those awarded to the requesting schools from the NYSDEC. Council funding was also utilized for the purchase of planting medium and plastic cups. Each participant was given two tree seedlings that they temporarily planted in the cups to take home for subsequent planting.
At each of the school planting sites and at the Tree Nursery, I (as City Forester) gave orientation and instruction about Arbor Day, tree planting, and the importance of trees to us and our world. Participating schools included all elementary schools: Maple Avenue, Kalfas Magnet, Cataract, Abate, Niagara Street, 79th Street, Hyde Park, and G.H. Mann. All three middle schools participated as well- Gaskill Middle, Community Education Center, and LaSalle Preparatory. Student from different schools were involved in the Saturday morning tree seedling planting at the Tree Nursery. The group then had the opportunity to participate in the “Bio-Blitz” (species-counting competition in celebration of Earth Day) at the Hyde Park Municipal Golf Course that afternoon. Over 300 youth participated in this year’s Arbor Day Program.
Corporate Arbor Day tree plantings were also held during this time frame with the planting of large B&B trees throughout the Hyde Park area. National Grid purchased—and its employees planted—two red maples at the newly constructed playground at Hyde Park. Modern Disposal Services LLC purchased and planted two red maples near the clubhouse at the public Hyde Park Golf Course to replace two green ash that were removed due to EAB.